Gerald Ray Riley

Gerald Ray Riley

Gerald Ray Riley passed away in Lawrence, KS on March 29 at the age of 94. Gerald was born on August 28, 1925, in Fort Scott, KS to Claude Russell Riley and Mabel Lura Waters Riley. He grew up in southeast Kansas. In 1942, the family moved to Wichita, and Gerald graduated from Wichita East High School in 1943.

In December, 1943, he entered into service with the United States Navy during World War II. After training in Farragut, ID, Stillwater, OK, and on Treasure Island in San Francisco, CA, he served as a radar technician aboard the USS Medusa in the South Pacific, a fact of which he was most proud. He was honorably discharged in 1946. He returned to Wichita after the war.

He met Donna Lee Harding on a blind date in 1946, arranged by his cousin Glen, in Wichita. They married on June 1, 1949. They spent most of their married life in Wichita where they had two sons, Steven Ray and Timothy Lynn Riley.

Gerald graduated from Wichita University in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. He completed his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado in 1952.

His early career in education included teaching in Minneapolis, KS. They moved back to Wichita in 1952. In the Wichita Public school system, Gerald taught at Horace Mann, Hadley and Mead Junior High Schools. He was the guidance counselor at Mead Junior High School and finished his career as a Research and Testing Coordinator for the Wichita Public School System. He retired in 1985.

Gerald and Donna bought their first home in Wichita in 1952 and lived there for 44 years. They moved into the Georgetown Retirement Village in Wichita in 1996 and lived there until 2018. In 2018, they moved to Monterey Village, a retirement community, in Lawrence, KS. Gerald later moved to Bridge Haven in Lawrence.

Gerald enjoyed fishing, golfing, gardening, and family fishing and camping trips to the strip mining pits in southeast Kansas, the mountain streams throughout Colorado, and Big Stony Lake in central Minnesota. He also enjoyed trips to the Maui Kai resort in Hawaii with Donna. He was an involved husband, father, and grandparent, a loyal friend, and an avid Willie Nelson fan.

He was a man of many talents. He was a licensed amateur radio operator and a private pilot. He was a model for Cessna Aircraft, appearing in several Cessna sales brochures and advertisements. He and Donna also appeared in Hog Wild BBQ restaurant commercials in Wichita, and in brochures for Georgetown Retirement Village.

Gerald was an excellent craftsman. He made homemade knives, fishing poles, fishing lures, a 16 ft fiberglass canoe, and bologna smokers out of cardboard boxes. He also made wooden toys for his grandchildren. In 1967, he assembled a color television from individual components just in time to watch the 1968 US Olympic Track & Field Trials. He repaired many broken radios, TVs, appliances, fishing reels, and lawn mowers that friends would bring to his house.

Gerald was preceded in death by his parents, Russell and Mabel Riley and a sister, Velda Jo Childs. He is survived by his beloved wife of 70 years, 10 months, Donna Lee Riley of Lawrence, KS; sons Steve Riley of Lawrence KS (wife Marcia) and Tim Riley of Norman, OK (wife Ann); five grandchildren Paul, Lisa, David, Justin and Matt; and four great grandchildren Avery, Connor, Miles and Clara.

The family would like to extend their gratitude to his extended families at Monterey Village, Bridge Haven, and A Helping Hand Homecare for their care and support.

No services are planned. A Celebration of Life may occur at a later date. Condolences may be sent to

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Gerald’s name to the Wichita Public School Education EDGE Fund, or to the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, KS and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

14 Condolences

  1. Bonny Fugett on April 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Steve and family,
    We were so sorry to learn of your dad’s passing. It sounds like he enjoyed doing a wide variety of things. I know he’ll be missed so much by all of you, especially your mother. Please know we are thinking of you during this difficult time.

  2. Dr. and Mrs. Ron Riley on April 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Marcia, Steve and the boys + Tim and Ann and the kids.We share in your loss. I can remember many good times with Gerald. He was a remarkable person with many skills and gifts.

  3. Jesse Morris on April 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Dear family,

    Im sorry for your loss and my prayers are sent out to you and everyone involved.

  4. Julie Govier on April 2, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    You all know how much we loved Gerald. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with you all.
    Monterey Village Arbors staff

  5. Brittney Swadener on April 2, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Gerald will surely be missed by all of us at Monterey Village. He was such a joy and a pleasure to have around.

    Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Melanie Morris on April 2, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Dear. Family I am very sorry for the loss of gerald. My thoughts and prayers go out to you guys.

  7. Terri on April 3, 2020 at 5:18 am

    Please except my sincere condolences for the family. I only knew Gerald short amount of time. But he was the kindest man I have met. He was truly loved by many. Gerald rest in peace.

  8. Deb Rawlings on April 3, 2020 at 11:01 am

    I’m so glad I got to know Gerald in the last year of his life. What a special & dear man he was. My deepest condolences to your family. May God bring you comfort.

  9. Linda Keeler on April 3, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    To the Riley Family, My thoughts are with you at this time. Please wrap yourself in the memories of a life well lived. Thinking of you all.

  10. Joel Jackson on April 7, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Mr Riley was a great encouragement to me while I was a student at Mead. It really meant a lot to have someone hold you accountable and believe you could succeed in life. Great man!

  11. Esther & Harold Brunner on April 7, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Donna & Gerald were the best neighbor at Georgetown Village, Wichita.

  12. Harry Simpson on April 7, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Fair winds and following seas sailor.
    “Boatswain… Standby to pipe the side… Shipmate’s going Ashore…”

    Thank you for your service to this nation. WWII.

  13. kim shoemaker on April 11, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Sad News, The Riley family was one was of Wichita’s finest. I was Blessed to live a few blocks away and have many great memories of them. Steve and Tim were superb athletes and the pole vault setup they had at the house was amazing. Great Kids come from Great Parents and that sure applies here. Gerald was always known to me as Mr. Riley. Hosea 6:2 “He will revive us after two days, on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.” from an old family friend. God Speed Mr. Riley.

  14. Terry Moore Holmes on May 4, 2020 at 11:28 am

    I worked with Gerald and Gene Turner in the Research dept. for Wichita Public Schools in the 70’s. I learned so much from both of them. Gerald and I would walk on our lunch break, from the old USD 259 Administration Bdg. to the Riverside area, to shop at Nifty Nut House. Sometimes we would stop at a bakery and buy mini loaves of fresh baked bread. Even though I was a young kid just out of college, Gerald treated me as an equal and a friend. He would talk with pride about his sons and the backyard pole vaulting pit. He would talk about the strip pits and Chicken Annie’s. He was such a nice and interesting person. His was a life well lived.

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